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# Ultimate Pit Limit Design Using ~icrosoft' Excel

David ~ r e w and
' Ernest ~aafi'

ABSTRACT
Microsoft Excel based ultimate pit limit (UPL) optimiser has been developed to determine the greatest
economic value of an orebody. UPL manipulates a given geological block model to define an ultimate
pit limit using either the moving cone, method or Korobov algorithm o r Lerchs-Grossman technique.
UPL is designed to be an adjunct to M S Excel; the cells in Excel are excellent analogue to the blocks
in a geological model, providing X-Y dimensions in an easily viewable and editable state. The use of
individual worksheets within an Excel workbook provides the necessary depth to a 3-D block model.

INTRODUCTION
The determination of the ultimate pit limit is vital to all open pit mining operations. The developments
of computer programs to determine pit limits were some of the very first application of computers
within the mining industry, and have remained at the forefront of mine design since its inception.
There are various packages including WHITTLE 4-X and Datamine pit optimizer, which are used to
generate these ultimate pit limits, using a variety of algorithms. UPL was primarily designed as a
teaching tool to meet the needs of undergraduate mining engineering students. UPL is freely available
and easy to use, and can perform both large and small pit optimisations with accuracy (Drew, 2000).
UPL makes use of the moving cone method (Wright, 1990). the Korobov algorithm (Dowd and Onur,
1993), and the Lerchs-Grossman dynamic programming technique (Lerchs and Grossman, 1965).
Undergraduate students at University of Wollongong use UPL to evaluate the strengths and
weaknesses of each of the three algorithms, as well as learn about ultimate pit limit design concepts.
Instead of being a stand-alone program, UPL runs as M S Excel add-in by being loaded temporarily
Into Excel with the functionalities of Excel (Figure 1). UPL uses M S Excel as the basis for the
following reasons:
Ideal data format
Market 'standard'
Powerful file and data UO
Visual Basic capabilities

DESIGN OF UPL
The cells in a spreadsheet are an excellent analogue to the blocks in a geological block model,
providing X-Y dimensions in an easily viewable and editable state. The use of individual worksheets
within Excel workbook prbvides the necessary depth to a three-dimensional block model. In addition, '

the size of Excel sheets is sufficient for a reasonably size block model to be analysed.

I
Hoslangs Resource Management, Level 1, I Swan Road., Taringa, Qld 4068, Australia
<davidQhydrowash.com.au>
'Faculty of Engineering, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522. Australia <ebaafi@uow.edu.au>

RowHeight = 22. and as an example of an "optimal" heuristic algorithm.Column Width = 4. . Sub ResizeCells() ' This subroutine changes the size of the cells. Since the geological model is in the form of selective mining blocks. and for its readily identifiable errors.VerticalAlignment = xlCenter Next lSheet OPERATION OF UPL UPL is divided up into four sections. they are displayed incorrectly. These are: Pit Limit Generators Data Transformation Sensitivity Analysis Options and User functions The pit limit generators are the moving cone. was used to resize the cells in Excel to the ratio that suits the block sizes.HorizontalAlignment = xlCenter " Rows("I:" & glRows). which always guarantees an optimal pit.Activate Rows("1:" & glRows). the user can edit each block data and make any changes (Figure 2). In a typical regular fixed block model the orebody is divided into mining blocks of equal size. Each of the blocks is assigned a grade determined from sample grades.5 * (gdYDimBlock/ gdXDimBlock) ' Rows("I: & glRows). ResizeCells(). MS Excel cells are typically in a rectangular aspect ratio that is approximately 2 !h : 1. moving cone algorithm was selected for its speed and simplicity. 'The Korobov algorithm was chosen to demonstrate a 'modified' form of the moving cone method.The program U P L requires a geological block model to generate an ultimate pit. IfgdXDimBlock = 0 Then gdXDimBlock = I ' IfgdYDirnBlock = 0 Then gdYDimBlock = I IfgdZDimBlock = 0 Then gdZDimBlock = I For lSheet = I To glSheets Worksheets(lSheet). The LG method is a rigorous algorithm. The following subroutine. Unless the block sizes are in these same ratios. Once the block grade data have been loaded into UPL. Korobov and LG algorithms. UPL shows the data in a similar "cell-block" format.5 * (gdXDimBlock/gdYDimBlock) Rows("1:" & glRows).